By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, July 13, the Alabama legislature returned to Montgomery for a Special Session to address the General Fund budget. While we still have not seen the actual bills the Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) is advocating, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) has introduced legislation to protect Alabama’s cultural and historical heritage from being destroyed to make way for the passing political correctness of the day.
There is a push on to remove memorials and monuments to Alabama’s Civil War Veterans. The City of Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board is currently in the process of attempting to remove a 110 year old Confederate Veterans Memorial in Linn Park. Jasper city officials have discussed removing their Confederate memorial.
Sen. Allen said in a statement, “This legislation is about protecting all of Alabama’s history for every Alabamian, which includes the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. There is a revisionist movement afoot to cover over many parts of American history. Our national and state history should be remembered as it happened. This politically-correct movement to strike whole periods of the past from our collective memory is divisive and unnecessary.”
According to the synopsis, “This bill would create the Alabama Heritage Protection Act of 2015. This bill would prohibit the relocation, removal, alteration, renaming, rededication, or other disturbance of any statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, or plaque which is located on public property and has been erected for, or named, or dedicated in honor of certain historical military, civil rights, and Native American events, figures, and organizations. This bill would prohibit any person from preventing the governmental entity having responsibility for maintaining the items, structures, or areas from taking proper measures to protect, preserve, care for, repair, or restore the items, structures, or areas.”
Governor Bentley after taking down the Confederate flags from the Capital grounds said that he had considered removing the massive Confederate memorial monument and the star where Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis took the oath of office in 1861. This act would prohibit Bentley or future governors from removing memorials which they don’t like.
On Monday, July 13 Southern Heritage activist Mike Williams and dozens of Confederate heritage activists, many of them with the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) were in Montgomery to lobby their legislators. Williams told the ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ then that they hoped to pass legislation to protect monuments passed during the special session and were in talks with legislators.
On Thursday, Williams said on Facebook, “Our Heritage Bill SB12 has assigned GENERAL FUND BUDGET COMMITTEE. Arthur Orr is chairman. There are only six days left in the session when it convenes on Aug. 3. IT TAKES A BILL 5 DAYS TO CLEAR BOTH HOUSES! So if Orr delays it, we are sunk. Orr’s district is MORGAN, MADISON, AND LIMESTONE COUNTIES. Please, please, light up Orr’s phone, email, etc.”
There have been numerous pro-Southern heritage rallies (many of them spontaneous) in the weeks since the Confederate Battle flag and Confederate memorials became national news following the Charleston slayings.
On Saturday, July 18 a rally to defend the removal of the Confederate Veterans memorial in Linn Park in Birmingham is scheduled at 10:00 am. Organizers wrote on Facebook, “We the Lovers of Dixie and our Heritage denounce any act that places our memorials and monuments in jeopardy and Praise the Lord, they will NEVER COME DOWN!!!”
Speakers at Saturday’s event include: H.K. Edgerton the Past President of Asheville, NC Chapter of NAACP and a descendant of a Confederate Veteran; Arlene Barnum – Radio host in Oklahoma City and descendant of Confederate Veterans; and John Sophocleus a Professor of Economics at Auburn University.
Organizers are asking attendees to: bring chairs, water, and something to eat; and bring no alcohol; bring no guns (per state law)
The Alabama Heritage Protection Act of 2015 specifically protects any monument of memorial that honors veterans in any, “Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, United States-Mexican War, the War Between the States, Spanish American War, the Mexican border period, World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War, Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada), Operation El Dorado Canyon (Libya), Operation Just Cause (Panama), Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Persian Gulf War I), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Persian Gulf War II).” “No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, or reserve which is located on public property and has been erected for, or named, or dedicated in honor of any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization, or military unit may be renamed or rededicated.” Additionally, “No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, or reserve which is located on public property and has been erected for, or named, or dedicated in honor of the Civil Rights Movement or any historical civil rights figure, historical civil rights event, or civil rights organization may be renamed or rededicated.” The bill would also protect monuments dedicated to Native Americans and other groups.
A Cullman attorney, Melvin Hastings, is suing the state and Governor Bentley for his unilateral decision to take the flags down. Hastings will be addressing the crowd at Linn Park on Saturday.
An online petition at change.org urging Gov. Bentley to restore the flags has 24,015 signatures to this point.